Decision-Making: Personal and Life Choices
“Focusing Steps for Personal Decision-Making” (SL#102)
by Wm. M. Pinson, Jr., Th.D. with Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 10 - Decision-Making

How do you get focused for personal decisions? You might ask, “How do I look at a decision or center on this choice?” The basic steps discussed in the series on “Process and Tools” (SL articles #35 through 41, #98) apply to decisions made for the individual life. However, here are some suggestions that apply more specifically to personal choices and decisions. They build on preparation and faith values.

  1. Look Up.
    Certainly God is not “up there” but everywhere. Yet in our everyday life we often speak and act as if He were. The Christian servant leader begins the process of decision-making by utilizing the resources especially available to the follower of Christ. These include prayer, Bible study, and being sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Look In.
    Various forms of introspection should be part of the servant leader's decision-making process. These include reason, intuition, and conscience.
  3. Look Outward.
    Making good decisions calls for getting all of the information necessary to make the decision. This calls for fact-finding. Determining what is truly fact from what is merely opinion calls for tough-minded research. What is considered “fact” has a way of changing. For example, what was termed “fact” about the shape of the earth centuries ago is no longer considered “fact.” The search for truth about reality is a never-ending process. Decisions, however, usually cannot wait until every fact is verified. What should we do then? Act on the best information that can be obtained.
  1. Look Forward.
    That's right, effective personal decision-making looks ahead. It is not enough to look at decisions-in-the making as the way things are now or the current set of facts. Wise choices also grow out of what you want to become, or need to happen. Looking forward causes your life purpose and your church's mission to kick in, contributing to your choices. It makes you willing to make changes and take risks.

Conclusion: Choices and Consequences
Questions certainly ought to address the consequences of the decision. What will be the effect of this decision on my life? On my family? On my church? On my relation to God? On the cause of Christ? Some acts are not right or wrong in themselves but must be evaluated on the effect they will have. When Paul helped early Christians with the decision whether or not they should eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, he used the question of effect. For example: If eating this meat caused offense to others, he would not eat the meat although he believed there was nothing wrong with his eating the meat (see Romans 14:13-23; I Corinthians 8:1-13).

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” --Col. 3:17

Reflection: In making your decisions, consider the example of Christ, applying it to your own life today as he applied to to the life of his disciples in the First Century.

Application
Here are some other questions to pose in regard to decisions:

What are some other questions you believe helpful in making or evaluating a decision?

 

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For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership